RALEIGH – North Carolina is the “Top State” for business again as selected by CNBC, the network announced Tuesday morning.

It’s the second straight honor for the Tar Heel state.

“North Carolina topped last year’s total, scoring 1,628 out of 2,500 points. Ranking number one in workforce – the most important category in this year’s study – educated workers flocking to the Tar Heel State and worker training programs are among the best in the country,” reported CNBC’s Scott Cohn.

“North Carolina also boasts the third best economy with solid growth, stable state finances and a healthy housing market.”

CNBC noted a repeat honor is “a rare feat”  in the annual study which dates to 2007. “Business and the economy in the state have been on a tear since the pandemic, and the state has scarcely looked back.”

The state set records in 2022 for economic development recruiting, such as new plants for Durham-based Wolfspeed and Vietnam-based VinFast and for new jobs. Numerous projects win already in 2023 also were cited by CNBC.

‘Well-trained, dedicated, diverse workforce’

“When we invest in our people, we invest in the foundation of our success,” said Governor Roy Cooper in a statement. “Thanks to our well-trained, dedicated and diverse workforce, North Carolina has been named the top state for business for the second year in a row and it’s important for us to invest in the education and well being of our people to continue our amazing success.”

N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders and Gene McLaurin, chair of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina’s (EDPNC) Board of Directors, praised the news:

“After another record-breaking year for economic development wins, I am more than proud to see the great state of North Carolina recognized as the best state in the nation for business yet again,” said Sanders. “Last year’s performance includes nearly 29,000 new jobs and $19.3 billion in investments – the result of collaborative leadership and hard work. My team and I are proud to have launched the state’s ‘First In Talent’ strategic economic development plan, intentionally incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion practices that have facilitated booming economic opportunities for all North Carolinians.”

Added McLaurin:  “North Carolina is once again the best state for business. Thanks to the collaboration between Governor Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the EDPNC and other public and private partnerships, we’ve created a strong business environment to help companies grow and thrive in our state.”

Political rumblings

But not all is heavenly. One warning sign is political.

“[T]he political harmony that has helped made the state so competitive is fading,” Cohn said.

“North Carolina is one of the only states with no statewide antidiscrimination protections, and it recently enacted a 12-week abortion ban, both hurting its score for Life, Health and Inclusion. … Companies in desperate need of skilled workers are going where the people are, and people are going to North Carolina,” Cohn said but repeated his political point.

“The state’s well-balanced economy is handling the growth well. Rising political tensions could create issues down the road, but for now, North Carolina seems to have the winning formula—for the second year in a row.”

Cooper, a Democrat, has been feuding with the Republican controlled General Assembly over a variety of social issues. Republicans responded to the CNBC comments.

“Over the past year, this legislature has worked to keep North Carolina the best in the country for business. We’ve overcome partisan obstructionism, regional competition, and economic uncertainty, and have confirmed that our state’s reputation and economy are stronger than ever,” Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said in a statement. “Republicans had a vision and plan when we won control of the General Assembly back in 2010, and improving our state’s business climate was a big part of that. It’s rewarding to see North Carolina prevail over several other qualified contenders.”

America’s Top 5 States for Business:

1.     North Carolina
2.     Virginia
3.     Tennessee
4.     Georgia
5.     Minnesota

Rankings for all 50 states are available at topstates.cnbc.com.

CNBC bases its rankings on 86 different metrics split among 10 categories of “competitiveness,” the network says.

“The methodology grades the states based on factors companies consider each year when making site selection decisions, and that states pitch in their efforts to win business. Then, every state’s economic development marketing pitches are analyzed to determine the appropriate weight for each category. The more weight a category carries, the more metrics it includes.”

North Carolina also won multiple best states for business expansions over the past year.

The criteria, where NC ranked

“Our methodology assigns a weight to each category based on how frequently states cite it as a selling point. The idea is to measure the states based on the criteria they use to pitch themselves to business,” CNBC reported.

This year’s categories and point totals:

  • Workforce: 400 points (16%)
  • Infrastructure: 390 points (15.6%)
  • Economy: 360 points (14.4%)
  • Life, Health & Inclusion: 350 points (14%)
  • Cost of Doing Business: 290 points (11.6%)
  • Technology & Innovation: 270 points (10.8%)
  • Business Friendliness: 215 points (8.6%)
  • Education: 125 points (5%)
  • Access to Capital: 50 points (2%)
  • Cost of Living: 50 points (2%)

North Carolina’s ranks in America’s Top States for Business 2023

Where North Carolina ranked in each of 10 categories considered by MSNBC for its annual top states of business.

Overall: 1
Work force: 1
Infrastructure: 16
Economy: 3
Life, Health & Inclusion: 34
Cost of Doing Business: 18
Tech & Innovation: 6
Business Friendliness: 10
Education: 7
Access to Capital: 6
Cost of Living: 27